Monday, May 30, 2011

Do Jews Believe in the Rapture?

Dear Tanta Golda,
Recently there was a big hullabaloo about the Rapture, and the end of the world (and universe!) for the rest of us on October 21st. My anniversary is October 25th, should I still buy my beloved a gift?
Repentant but Perplexed
My Darling Perplexed,
What a mishegos! As you may have figured out, Jews do not believe in any event like the rapture. Nor do we believe in any concept of Armageddon - the self-destruction of the world. So in brief - go ahead and get your precious a love token!
Now for some clarification. The Torah does refer to aharit hayamim (end of days). This shouldn’t be confused with the Christian concept of the end of everything. In Jewish theology the end of days means the end of the old world order and the transformation to one of universal peace, united under one G-d. It will be the time of the Mashiach.
Once again we have some distinct differences between Jewish and Christian belief. Messiah means “savior”, whereas Mashiach means “anointed”, a term given to someone in Biblical times who attained a position of nobility or greatness. Jews believe that the Mashiach will be a charismatic human leader - not divine, physically descended from the line of King David, who will rule and unite the people of Israel, and usher in an age of global universal peace. He will lead the people through example, inspiring others to strive for “good”, so that people from all cultures and nations will unite to perfect the entire world. 
You may find it surprising to learn that it is said (by those who say such things) that in every generation there is a person who potentially could be the Mashiach, and that when Hashem determines the time is right, he will imbue him with the powers necessary to rally the people. So my kinder you may already know him! 
Tanta Golda would advise that we treat everyone we meet as if they could be the Mashiach, perhaps if we begin treating everyone nicely we will help bring about the world to come! Much love - TG